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Lemon Meringue Pies for Mikaela
It was a warm and beautiful summer day as I went to bake my lemon meringue pies. The sun shone brightly through the windows, and the wonderful aroma of the baking pies filled my frail nose as I scrubbed the stain-covered pots and pans. But, I felt lonely. The loneliness haunted me from the top of my downy-white hair down to my painted red toe nails. My children were all grown, my husband died in a car accident, and my grandchildren never visited me. Then, suddenly, from my kitchen window I saw what looked like two sisters on the sidewalk-one tall with milk chocolate colored hair and the other small and short with blondish hair. The girl with milk chocolate hair grabbed the younger girl and calmly said,
“Stephanie, I’m telling you once and for all that you can’t go over there.”
Stephanie inquired loudly, “Why not Rachel??????”
“Because, that person is a stranger and may abduct you. She may be baking pies to lure innocent young children like you over there just to be put in her trap.”
Stephanie pushed against her sister’s hand and cried. After struggling Stephanie unraveled herself from Rachel’s clutches and ran. In the meantime, I decided to get back to washing the dishes, which brought an agonizing pain to my old back. Then I heard, “Hello.”
I looked, and right in front of me I saw a face that I would remember forever. It belonged to the same little girl with the blondish hair; she wore blue dangling earrings, and looked to be about 7 years old. I then asked,
“Hello sweetie, who are you and where are your parents?”
The little girl smiled and told me her name was Stephanie. She said her parents were working late and that the smell of pie dragged her here because she loved pie. I asked her if she should be getting back to the other girl on the sidewalk. Stephanie’s smile faded and then replied that it was her sister Rachel; who she wouldn’t go back to unless she had a piece of pie. My face squinted and then I suggested that she come back later when the pie had chilled.
Tears welled up in Stephanie’s baby blue eyes, and then she spoke,
“I’m sorry I cried, I can’t come back later. It’s just that I’m afraid of having too little time to do all the things I want. That’s why I try to take every opportunity, like enjoying the smell of your pie, because I’m afraid that I won’t get the chance to ever enjoy it again before I die.”
Shock overcame me as those mature words came out of this seven year old’s mouth. Most seven year old girls would just play with their dolls, not care about what they see and do before they die.
“I have Leukemia.” she answered as though she heard my thoughts. As I stared into the baby blue eyes and blondish hair of Stephanie I saw flashbacks of Mikaela all over again. She was my little sister, the most beautiful human being ever created. She had long, beautiful golden curls, and big, blue eyes. But, the problem with Mikaela happened exactly 61 years ago to this day, she was four years old and I was nine. It all started one cool, summer evening. Our mother washed me and Mikaela for our daily bath. But, when Mom washed us that evening she noticed a big bruise right in the middle of Mikaela’s small back. Mom asked how she got the bruise. I would never ever forget how Mikaela reacted to this simple little question. She started to shake her wet, long hair all over the place like an out-of control dog. I then nudged her on her back which made her holler for a few seconds until she turned upward answering,
“I think I hurt myself while me and my friends were played in the mud.”
Mom took both of our towels, dryed us off and replied that she was just worried. We all thought Mikaela’s bruise would go away. But, days, weeks, and months passed without fading. After three months, Mom was worried enough that she decided Mikaela had to see a doctor, just to make sure she was okay. The doctor conducted blood tests, and checked her to see whether she was healthy or not. After several hours passed, the doctor came back with a grim face and a teddy bear. Mom asked the doctor if everything was okay. The doctor walked around, patted mom on the back and answered that Mikaela had a very extreme blood count of 80,000 platelets but only 1.3 white blood cells. With the platelets to an extreme high and the white blood cells to an extreme low he was afraid that she got Leukemia.
Mom stared at him wide-eyed for a second but then started crying and blasting the doctor with questions; if Mikaela would die, if she had to be treated specially, and what is Leukemia. The doctor answered that Leukemia was a blood cancer that occurred when the marrow opens up its doors too early and makes immature blood cells roam around unable to do their job. He explained that Mikaela had a slim chance of surviving, if they started chemotherapy immediately to try to kill the Leukemia. Then he told her the side effects would be loss of hair, stomach cramps, and sickness. Mom nodded, then lastly asked if Mikaela’s beautiful, long hair would be gone due to the chemotherapy. The doctor gave the teddy bear to Mikaela and answered that her hair would grow back after several months.
Mom nodded, and then we both sobbed uncontrollably while Mikaela hugged her teddy bear, having no clue what just happened to her. Throughout the weeks after Mikaela was diagnosed with Leukemia she received many chemotherapy treatments. She lost all of her hair, threw up alot, had got stomach aches, headaches, fatigue, anemia, depression, but ended up getting as mature as a 50 year old in the process. One day as she layed in the hospital bed she weakly asked me to bring her a lemon meringue pie. It was her favorite, and she was afraid she wouldn’t have time to taste one again before she died.
Her maturity struck me the way lightning struck. I thought I would never show the maturity my sister showed as she layed in that bed. The question was how to make a lemon meringue pie. I never made one or watched anyone make one, but I would do anything to make her happy. I loved my sister and wished I could die in her place then see her suffer. I ran out of the hospital room; all the way to my neighbor’s house so I could get the recipe and bake a pie for Mikaela. Two hours later, with mom’s help, I finished baking the pie. After it cooled, I ran back to the hospital room. As I opened the creaking door Mikaela sat up with a smile.
“Thank you Emily. I can’t believe you made a lemon meringue pie just for me.
“I love you Mikaela. I would do anything for you. I would also die for you if you could keep on living.”
Mikaela ate a piece of the pie slowly but cried as she spoke,
“Emily, I can’t live like this. All I do is make people stressed and cry. If I died I wouldn’t have to suffer all this agonizing pain in my chest, head, hands and feet, and I could see my beautiful hair again. I don’t belong here, so please Emily have fun without me. Get married, have children, finish school, and get a great job where you can make tons of money. I wish a good life for you.”
After the tear-jerking speech I cried and gave her a huge hug as she finished her last piece of my lemon meringue pie. As she swallowed it she died along with the pie. But, I made a silent promise to myself that moment; I would continue making lemon meringue pies to keep Mikaela’s spirit alive even though her body wasn’t down here anymore. I also said that if anyone wanted a piece of pie, they could have one and remember Mikaela along with me.
“Mrs. Are you okay?” Suddenly my mind came back to the present and saw Stephanie’s concerned face looking back at me. Just to see a young girl of that age show concern for an old, lonely woman like me definitely deserves a piece of pie, I then smiled back and answered, “Yes darling I’m okay. I just had to think, that’s all. Now, would you like a piece of pie? It’s warm but I think you’ll like it. Your older sister can have a piece too since she is the one who took you on a walk here.”
Stephanie’s face lit up; just like Mikaela’s face did when I gave her a piece of lemon meringue pie 61 years ago. Then she asked excitedly,
“Really!! I can have lemon meringue pie. Seriously?”
Stephanie’s face turned around and screamed, “Rachel, get over here. The nice lady is offering us a piece of pie.”
Rachel ran over towards Stephanie, grabbed her by the hand, and both sat at my kitchen table. When they smiled, I felt like a little girl again. I then grabbed three plates and served three huge pieces of pie to Rachel, Stephanie, and myself and watched as the girls took their first bites. Rachel said,
I put my hand on her shoulder and replied, “Both of you call me Emily, okay.”
“Emily.” Rachel continued, “Thank you for being so sweet to Stephanie.”
I nodded, remembering how Mikaela had suffered through chemotherapy, and how her heart stopped just as she finished the last piece of my lemon meringue pie. But, it probably wouldn’t happen to Stephanie since there were a lot more blood donors, more technology, and more chance that she would actually survive the cancer in her body. Now, I watched and prayed for Stephanie knowing that Mikaela was doing the same thing from above.